Thinking: What about a FPRPG?

Reading this gamasutra article, a thought suddenly struck me: Often the lack of immerssion, as I see it, is because the setting of the first person games are very unimmersive or, shall we say, doesn’t really suspend my disbelief. After all, how much sense does it make to be a super duper soldier running through a war and shooting people all over the place without getting a scratch (“game over”s not included)? How much does it help that there’s barely any physical “self” on your screen? I’d answer “Not much” on both of them.

Which makes me wonder “what could be a better situation to actually try what the first person perspective is capable of?” and about a few milliseconds after the first thought struck, the next one did: A non-combat oriented RPG! I don’t know what such a game might look like, apart from being a game where you run around, solve people’s troubles and the core isn’t about killing stuff. Sure, combat may be there (it does give a bit of reason to why the quest givers can’t do their own quests and adds some danger/tention when needed), but it wouldn’t be the verb everything else is build around, but instead is a verb building upon something else (say “infiltration”, “persuation”, “exploration” or something).

Another thought said article inspired was “can the barrier of entry to first person be lowered somehow?” and I believe it can, because FPS-controls are really strange and unintuitive. Let’s do a comparison: How do humans move around? Forward at different speeds and turning. Facing something, we tend to walk towards it, away from it or around it. How do a character in a first person move around? Forward and Backward at equal speeds, strafing left and right at the same speed. Being able to turn very quickly. Facing something, it’s the same thing. And, because of the quick shooting and demanding targeting, this demands really quick reflexes and sharp hand-eye coordination, something teenagers and young adults manage but gets worse with age. So, to make it more intuitive, let’s do a thought-experiment about controls:

Not facing anything

(tap) W: Jump

(hold) W: Forward.

(tap) S: Toggle through crouch, crawl, walk

(hold) S: Slowly walk backwards.

(tap) A/D: sidestep left/right

(hold) A/D: turn left/right

Shift: Run forward

Mouse: Look around

Left Click: Use item

Right Click: Inventory

Facing something nonthreatening (determined by a large circular checkbox far larger then the unit’s hitbox):

(hold) W: Close in

(hold) A/D: Circle left/right

(hold) S: Get distance

Shift: Charge into

Left Click: Default interaction

Right Click: More options

Facing something threatening (again determined by a large circular checkbox far larger then the unit’s hitbox):

Like nonthreatening, but with the following in addition:

(tap) W: Quick duck

(tap) A/D: Quickjump left/right

(tap) S: Toggle through crouch, crawl, walk

In all cases, the mouse behaves as usual, as it’s a natural way to control your head. A modifyer-button such as control or middle mouse-button plus let left/right movement with the mouse could tilt your head, though, as it’s more often used then one easily realizes.

I guess this would be *very* unconventional and perhaps a bit controversial, but the regular controls are made for quickly shooting at targets and presumes your only tools are weapons. This is made for moving a human being and presumes you may want to check your inventory and interact with things. And, yes, “default interaction” and “use item” for a weapon means “shoot”. If you wanted to know.

I see a few games have acted as subconscious inspiration here, as they’re in about the same domain, and as such they should get credit: Deus-Ex, (the hype version of) Heavy Rain and Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.

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